Toughie 1715 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1715

Toughie No 1715 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ****

A challenging offer from Sparks with some fun clueing. Sparks invariably has a Nina and I’m struggling to find one. The best I’ve got so far is a crossover in rows 3 and 5, perhaps there is more. There is also a theme based on 13a/10a. I’ve included a competition to parse 1d (in other words, I didn’t manage) which Gazza has already won.

As always, the definitions are underlined in the clues below. The hint may help you find the answer but you can always reveal it by clicking on the IT boxes. Please do leave a comment telling us how you did and what you thought.


1a    Feckless types in front hog broadcast, entering property (4-3-8)
GOOD-FOR-NOTHINGS: An anagram (broadcast) of IN FRONT HOGS goes inside (enters) a 5-letter word for property or merchandise

9a    Book too late for dance and miss second team (3,6)
ALL BLACKS: Move the B(ook) in a 4-letter word for a dance to the end (too late), and add a verb meaning miss or want and the abbreviation for S(econd)

10a    Culminates in verbal outbursts of anger (5)
PEAKS: A homophone (verbal) of feelings of anger or vexation

11a    Height indicated by floor number, in a somewhat roundabout way (5)
MUNRO: A themed entry – reverse hidden (indicated by…in a somewhat roundabout way)

12a    Judicious English principle (9)
RATIONALE: An 8-letter word meaning judicious or reasonable plus the abbreviation for E(nglish)

13a    Silence surrounding model, back on bed, showing tongue (8)
SCOTTISH: A 2-letter interjection meaning silence or hush goes around all of the reversal (back) of a word meaning to model or pose coming after (‘on’ in an across clue) a word for a small bed

14a    Fancied wee snifter about a quarter to? Not half (6)
DREAMT: A small measure of alcohol, especially whisky (wee snifter) goes around a compass point (quarter), followed by half of T(o)

16a    Carp about, mostly freshwater fish, its remaining tail being eaten by pet (4,2)
PICK AT: Take a 4-letter common voracious freshwater fish with a pointed snout without it’s last letter (mostly), then around the new last letter (remaining tail), place a common household pet

18a    After start of project, craftsman becomes biased (8)
PARTISAN: After the first letter of P(roject), add a craftsman

22a    Perhaps one of many on flight 16, an alien Pole (6-3)
CARPET ROD: A word meaning to find fault with or nag (the answer to 16 but also the first word in the clue!), Spielberg’s alien, and a pole or stick

23a    Company dealt with high-flier (5)
COMET: The abbreviation for CO(mpany) plus a past-tense verb meaning dealt with or satisfied

24a    Remain hollow when fed by wife (5)
DWELL: A deep hollow or small valley contains (when fed with) the abbreviation for W(ife)

25a    Third-rate artiste overacting when given more stout (9)
HAMFATTER: A word meaning overacting, or an actor who over acts, followed by a word that means more stout

26a    Retreats occupied by human beings, the older members primarily being housed (10,5)
RETIREMENT HOMES: This is an all-in-one, where the wordplay covers the entire clue and the whole clue is the definition. A verb meaning retreats (to bed, for example) covers (occupied by) a 3-letter word for human beings or people and THE from the clue which in turn covers (being housed) the first letters (primarily) of O(lder) M(embers)



1d    Apparently amateur plans for lightweights (7)
GRAMMES: The answer is clear but I am not seeing the wordplay, over to you – who will be first to comment with the parsing? (I have my bets). Ah, take a 10-letter word for plans and remove the initial PRO to make it apparently amateur. Thanks Gazza! At least my bet was right.

2d    Gold real estate round site of Walt Disney World (7)
ORLANDO: A 2-letter word meaning gold, a word for real estate or property, plus the letter that is round

3d    Don joining rep, possibly 18 (6,9)
FELLOW TRAVELLER: A word for don plus a word for rep or salesman gives an expression for a person who, though not a party member, holds the same political views (esp. communist) – hence defined by the answer to 18

4d    Stagger, having got up in plant (4,4)
ROCK ROSE: A word for stagger or reel, plus a word for got up

5d    Opening (not large) in unit in factory, perhaps (2-4)
ON-SITE: A 4-letter narrow opening or long cut loses the abbreviation for L(arge) and goes inside the number that is a unit. Thanks Gazza for suggesting ‘in’ is part of the definition.

6d    Poach it twice, claiming right to break well-known pledge (11,4)
HIPPOCRATIC OATH: An anagram (to break) of POACH IT POACH IT R(ight)

7d    Get up on horse, but not quite — it’s quite a height (7)
NIAGARA: Reversal of a word for get (or earn or win) followed by the first 3 letters of a 4-letter horse (not quite)

8d    Dubious conjecture briefly ousting one in action (7)
SUSPECT: a 4-letter contraction of a word for conjecture or guess replaces the I (ousting one) in a word for a court action or case

15d    Jack-of-all-trades, using pointer, scores back to front (8)
HANDYMAN: A pointer you might find on a clock face, plus a word for scores or lots in which the last letter is moved to the front



16d    Animal killer — sanctimonious or rogue? — somewhere in between (7)
PICADOR: A 2-letter word for sanctimonious plus OR from the clue, with a 3-letter word for rogue ‘somewhere in between’

17d    Gentleman Jim sitting centrally in my punt (7)
CORBETT: A themed entry –The middle letter of sitTing goes inside an expression meaning ‘my!’ plus a word for punt or wager

19d    Compassion half given on driving test about sign (7)
SYMPTOM: Take the first half of an 8-letter word for compassion and add a reversal (about) of an annual car safety test

20d    Characters saunter about (7)
NATURES: An anagram (about) of SAUNTER

21d    Good Martha taking time out for dancing. This one did! (6)
GRAHAM: Another themed entry – The abbreviation for G(ood) plus and anagram of MAR(t)HA without the T(ime)

I think my favourite was 6d (Poach it twice..) and I also enjoyed the all-in-one at 26a. Which were your favourite clues?

19 comments on “Toughie 1715

  1. Darn it – Gazza beat me to it re 1d

    I found the theme but I think that might be all we are supposed to find.

    Thanks to Sparks for a very entertaining, and in the Toughie spectrum – Toughie and Dutch for the explanations

  2. A great finale to the week’s Toughies. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch. I couldn’t find a Nina but did find the theme. I bet I can guess which clue will be Kiwi Colin’s favourite but I keep switching between 11a, 26a and 16d.
    For 5d I think the definition works if you make it “in factory, perhaps”.

  3. My Dad’s been in hospital this week so I’ve hardly been able to look at any crosswords let alone comment about them; so it’s good to see that now he’s home and feeling OK, the blog is also back on track. A very enjoyable Friday solve. Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  4. Solved 3 Toughies this week,but today’s flummoxed me. I got about half of.the answers and had to resort to the blog(before my head exploded!!) Much kudos to Dutch for the video of James Taylor(and,of course,the hints

  5. We had the whole puzzle sorted out in fairly reasonable time apart from the parsing of 1d. This took another half an hour of walking and thinking until the penny dropped with a resounding thunk. This revelation inevitably demoted 9a to silver medal spot on the podium. This just goes to reinforce what the Irish showed a couple of weeks ago. They don’t always win. We also searched in vain for a Nina and the themed clues (not surprisingly) meant nothing to us. An excellent challenging puzzle that we thoroughly enjoyed.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  6. Didn’t find this one quite as hard as yesterday’s but there were still a couple I needed to look up – the artiste and the dancer – and a handful of bits of parsing that I needed Dutch (and Gazza!) to help out with.
    Plenty to enjoy but my favourite award goes to 26a.

    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch – it’s a long time since I’ve heard 15d. The original version by Jimmy Jones was one of the first records I ever bought!

  7. Gusting 4* difficulty and maybe 3.5* for enjoyment. I enjoyed 11a, having bimbled up and down a few during my sentence in the Clyde Submarine Base. I filled the grid correctly – with a generous helping of lucky guesses – so needed several hints to see how I should have arrived at my answers. Thanks to Sparks for the workout, and to Dutch and my fellow contributors (as always) for their invaluable assistance.

  8. Finally sorted out the last three but failed to parse 1D and “quarter to” bit of 14A. I thought this was great. I loved 7D, 11A and 25A. The only nina I can find are three interrelated across clues (don’t want to give anything too much). There could be more. I did like 7D, too. It took a good while to parse that one. And I’ve been on that little boat in the picture.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  9. A really nice looking puzzle, but sadly one I didn’t manage to finish in the end. I had a backlog of crosswords after a busy week, and though I tried a few times, I just couldn’t make much headway and ended up turning to the blog. Thanks and apologies to Sparks, and thanks to Dutch for walking me through it.

      1. Thank you, I am as green as the hills to all this crossword jiggerypokery but find this blog a great help when there’s nothing left of my scalp to scratch!

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